12 December 2013

Newnes Training Weekend

I was always going to write a post on my planned trip to Newnes in November , unfortunately the content isn't quite what I had anticipated.  My weekend of training went wrong with a careless crossing of the Wolgan River that resulted in a rolled right ankle and a Grade 3 tear of my talofibular ligaments.  While obviously very disappointed with the injury it is part of running on trails and a lesson learnt.

I was still lucky enough to be away with my wife Kel and the boys Charley and Beau and some good friends.  We had a good time camping down in the Wolgan Valley, the spot is simply amazing, from the shear cliffs that dwarf you from above to the clearest of sky highlighting the brightest stars, it is simply stunning.  The road in has been improved and it makes for a great location as the trails are top class and fairly quiet.

It was however at the stepping stones where I encounter the moral question, do I ask people to move or go around?  I took the polite option and decide to go around and through the river, unfortunately I probably started running again too early and hit a deep spot caused by the higher water levels from the previous days rain.  Snap, crack and the pain started.  I knew it was bad straight away, I have done this ankle on a few occasions and know it quite well.  The pain wasn't just lateral it was also medial meaning the bones had crunched together and will be bruised, possibly taking longer to heal than the injury itself.

The diagnosis was no fracture but a Grade 3 tear of the talofibular ligaments. Up to 6 weeks of restricted training and not the news which I wanted, but the news I expected to hear.  I visited the physio and began the rehab process as soon as possible.  I was lucky enough (in a weird way) to have a boot to immobilise the joint for a few days and once the inflammatory phase had passed is was time to hook in.

So now its close to 4 weeks since the injury.  I have progressed very quickly and my running is becoming more frequent and much more comfortable.  The bike has been good in keeping my fitness up and I have been able to hike some good elevation in as well.  I am aiming for a return mid next week  to full training, allowing me to get back on the trails and the hills.  I guess the trick will be being smart and patient, not trying to catch up as this will lead to other issues.  I hope the rest has freshened my legs, they do feel pretty good and that I have been able to maintain fitness with my cross training of late.

I will be busy over the school holidays building towards the big events I have planned and have a couple of camps coming up to really see where I'm at.  I think a monofartlek session next Wednesday will be a good indicator of my shape and from there I will be really focusing on the goals a run at time, trying not to get too far ahead of myself.

Unfortunately Kel has been given some bad news regarding her foot injury as well.  She is in need of rest to allow her weakened metatarsal to heal, this schedules her to return before SkyCamp, but will only allow her a bit of training in the lead up.  She has been cross training very well and with more time available due to school holidays we can increase the time she spends at the gym.  Next race is Manly Dam STS and my goal is a quick time, but in the mean time it'll be regaining my confidence on the trails, something that will take a while. 

13 November 2013

2013 - It's a wrap

2013 Review

To those that are wondering why a yearly review in November, my season ended at Carcoar and I have been on a recovery fortnight the past week and a half.  I started my training for this year of racing around the end of November last year when I began working with Brendan Davies as my coach. We worked on my program, setting achievable training base goals and began working towards 6 Foot Track, TNF 50 and the Kanangra 50 Trail Ultra as my A races for the year.  Since then I have been supported and encouraged by my family and friends, both old and new, and by Kellie my amazing wife.

My training has become very serious, there is no other way of describing it, I have taken it on with my everything I have. I honestly think I have only missed one session for no reason and trained smartly throughout my first year of competitive running.  I train with purpose and direction and in the coming year my plan is heading towards my big goals for the season, this time my training program will be more specific and periodised to maximize results.  I will continue to put hours in each week while I love running, it gives me solace, security, an outlet and most importantly enjoyment.

My training goals are outlined best in my phases throughout the program;

·      Build Phase – develop aerobic endurance, get my long run longer and more comfortable.
·      Sharpening Phase – establish lactic tolerance and anaerobic condition, begin racing quicker and increasing intensity in certain session (track work!).
·      Competing/Peaking Phase – race well, perform to my ability, achieve my goals and learn.  Enjoy this time as this is what the hard work has lead to, big races.

So with that in mind my big races for next year are;

            Jan – Knapsack 6hr Solo Lap Race
            March – 6 Foot Track
            April – Buffalo Stampede Sky Ultra & Mt Solitary Ultra
            May – The North Face 100
            June – Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon & Mystery Mountain
            Oct – Kanangra 50 Trail Ultra
            Nov – Carcoar Cup

I will turn towards the road a little more in the later part of the year aiming for a 2:4X marathon.  I think a practice attempt at Mudgee and then a crack at Western Sydney is the likely scenario at this stage, although Stromlo is penciled in for October as well.

Looking back now my year has been busy, thanks to my family, mum and dad and Kel’s folks in particular, as they have supported us with the kids on our weekend trips to races.  Kel and I have done a lot together this year, more than any other year in our marriage and I have so much admiration and love for her and this time is so important to me.  I have had races with Kel and times when she has supported me, I always know she will be there for me and I hope to be able to do the same for her.

My schedule has been full and I have performed well, only having a couple of disappointing races, I have top 10 results in every race but two and finished on the podium on many occasions.  I have set a few pb times, run a 100km race and cracked the 3hr mark in the marathon, these were all goals for the year and I’m happy to have achieved them.

I have raced some of the best runners in country, guys like Tony “Fats” Fatorini, , Vlad Shatrov, Mitch Dean, Alex Matthews et al.  I have also been able to get to know Brendan, Ewan Horsbourgh, Mark Lee, Jo Brischetto and Andy Lee well through either racing or training with them.  All these runners are superb athletes and I am far better for running around them, in particular Brendan Davies, who as my coach has been monumental in my development.  He puts far more into the sport than people know and he will go down as one the best ultra runners in Australia’s history.  I’m so grateful and am looking forward to seeing him launch UP Coaching in 2014, a venture which I will be supporting and can not recommend more highly.

Not only has Brendan been a massive help but Sean Greenhill and Mel Parry at Mountain Sports have backed me all year.  I have been made an ambassador and part of the Mountain Sports Team at Buffalo in April.  They have offered advice and support and both Kel and I value their friendship greatly.  We have been lucky enough to see a new member of their family arrive with Abigail been born not to long ago, I’m sure she’ll be a great little friend to our boys Charley and Beau and a smiley little face at STS events.  I look forward to continuing to be associated with Mountain Sports in the future, hey maybe in the next year I can win a Mountain Sports event!

So where to from here, this hills I’m thinking.  I’ll be running longer and up and down more hills this Summer.  I aim to get the k’s in with the elevation this time around, perhaps an area I shied away from a bit this year.  I’ll spend time on the trails, mainly around Hassans Walls, with the trips to the mountains, both the Blue and Snowy thrown in, as well as the roads around home and up at Mt Panorama, all with the focus on becoming a strong runner and a decent mountain ultra trail runner.  A few things I know for sure, it’s going to be hard work and take loads of dedication, I’ll have Kel with me all the way, I will continue to enjoy the new community I have been embraced in and I’m going to have fun.

I am now a part of NSWIB and the beer bet for 6 Foot and the NSWIB will be my nominated club at races from now on.  It’s perfect for me, I love a beer when I get the opportunity and the institute has a ready supply at races, perfect!  Seriously though, it will be a bit of fun and good to be part of the rivalry V BMMC and add to the atmosphere at races.

So “onwards on upwards” to quote the coach.  Look out 2014 because I’m coming with clear goals and an extra 12 months under my belt.  Happy training and stay safe.  I maybe running at the STS on Sunday, depending on how I go at my mates wedding the night before, if I do it'll be the 6.5km I'm thinking.

Yearly Summary Report for WesGibson981

434 Activities
5,087.75 km
409:27:02 h:m:s
Elevation Gain:
93,933 m
341,881 C
Avg Speed:
12.5 km/h
Avg HR:
137 bpm
Avg Distance:
11.72 km
Avg Time:
56:36 h:m:s
Avg Elevation Gain:
219 m
Weekly Average
Weekly Time
Weekly Elevation

Carcoar 2013

Kanangra 2012


7 November 2013

Missing the Mark

 Carcoar Cup 60km Ultra

With Brendan who has been coaching me
throughout the year.
Sunday marked my last race for the season, my last ultra for the year and my second longest race ever.  I competed in the Carcoar Cup 60km Ultra with goal of running well and finishing the season off with a good performance.  I had goals in both time and positioning, unfortunately they were not met, maybe I had been a little over ambitious or perhaps nieve of the course in the lead up and I probably got found out a little at times.  Anyway I came in 6th overall in a time of 5:17:34, clocking up 59.12km @ 5.19 pace, it was an experience and I walked (painfully) away happy and better for the run.

Brendan and Nadine travelled over on the Saturday afternoon and we had a nice meal at Duggans.  It is always good to catch up with these guys and the night was enjoyable.  Brendan was toying with which race he was to run and was going to make a decision on the day.  It was an early rise at 4.30am and a short trip over to Carcoar from home, we arrived around 6.15am to get our bibs and get ready.  Brendan had decided to run the Ultra in what was a small but quite strong field.  Kel was now becoming nervous, as was I about running the 60km, a challenging distance that we both were not familiar or comfortable with running yet.

Start Line
During the final prep the time went very quickly and the start was upon us, I lined up with Kel and waited for the gun to go.  We were off on our 60km journey to Neville and back via the undulating dirt roads around Carcoar.  I won't go into a blow by blow wrap of the race in this one, I ran a bit with Ewan until I couldn't match it with him and for about 15k with Gary Mullins, from then on it was me then the half runners, then the marathon runners.   I ran well for 3hrs, then during hour 4 my performance fell away, but I was able to tough it out and got moving ok for the last 10km to the finish.  There was no miracle, just a hard slog to the end, I was fading and was using the mental strength I had gained from Canberra to get me through. Brendan ran home in 4:02:xx, a surreal performance, I can not fathom that pace on that course for that long, he is a super athlete achieving amazing results.
Off and running.

The best way to sum up the race was in positive and negative points;


  • I finished around the same time as at Kanangra in 2012, only this race was 10km longer and tougher.
  • I held my own and battled through tough times well.
  • My nutrition was spot on.
  • My use of mental strategies was effective and I got through the bad periods without negative thought or self doubt.
  • I ran to plan, only hiking up the bigger hills, it was at times slower running than originally planned but I followed my strategy well.
Notice the course was marked uniquely.
  • I slowly declined after 2hr45min, this ultimately lead to me not running under 5hrs.
  • My legs were sore early, I noticed pain and had to use mental strategies to get through this when I should been focusing on running fast.
  • I haven't trained as well as I could for this event, I've been injured and had been trying to minimise my load some what.
  • I am not in form, next year around this time of year I aim to be but realistically that second peak may take a year to two to achieve.
  • I got sunburnt, something I hate doing and rarely happens, I need to think harder about this factor beforehand.
Carcoar Cup
  • The course was great, very enjoyable and scenic.  It was mainly on typical country dirt roads with about 35% on tar roads, mostly we were exposed and it did get hot, windy, rainy and cloudy, all seasons in a day!
  • It was more undulating than I expected and I really found this aspect tough.  It had 2 climbs and a few good hills but only 950m of elevation gain so it was fairly flat and runable, I just missed the mark on the flatter sections during the second half of the run.
  • A great atmosphere and well organised event.  The prizes are great, good cash up for grabs but really the pottery pieces handed out are spectacular and will become iconic (Angela Bateup is well on her way to collecting a set of 6!).
Most of all I learnt a great deal from the experience, I'm a long way from where I want to be but a long way from where I was 12 months ago.  I will be using the next couple of weeks to rest up and recharge a bit then my focus will switch to preparation for 2014 and the many goals I have set out for the year.

Kellie also lined up for the Ultra. She had only made the decision to run on Friday after being sidelined with an injury which left her unable to run in the two weeks leading up to Carcoar. She battled it out until the 42km Marathon mark where she had to call it a day. She was content with this, feeling happy just to have been able to run at all on the day when it had looked doubtful in the week leading up to the race and also to get another Marathon distance under her belt.  While I know she is disappointed with the race I'm certain 2014 will be a big year for her.  We are working on a plan to get her ready to roll in her big races at 6 Foot, Buffalo Skymarathon and TNF50km, where I'm sure she'll do great.  This time last year Kel was generally running 5km runs and her longest run was the Edgell Jog, so it's safe to say that with more time and experience her results are only going to continue to grow.

So now it is break time and time to enjoy a few weekends before the hard work starts again!

20 October 2013

Kanangra 2013 - Cancelled

On Friday at 10am we were informed of the inevitable news that the Kanangra 50 Trail Ultra had been cancelled for 2013.  While this was very disappointing personally, the issues affecting NSW and in particular the Greater Blue Mountain's communities from Lithgow to Yellowrock were far more important and offer much concern.

Not only is the area a beautiful part of Australia, an area I love training in, it is also the community in which I teach and I have many close friends that reside there.  I know of several people deeply affected by the fires, losing their homes or that of family members and those who have been partially relocated with no end in sight for now.  The terror in the eyes of those living close to the fire at Lithgow in particular will remain with me for a long time.  The feeling on Thursday was that of shock, with a massive ploom of smoke filling the sky above Lithgow.  On Friday is was calm and eerie with a red sky and thick smoke lingering across town stretching all the way to Bathurst.

I can only hope that this week brings better news and respite for the RFS battling to control these fires but I am not confident with high temperatures predicted early in the week.  I don't know what my arrival at work will bring tomorrow but I know that our school community will support the victims of the fires in any way, the same as those throughout other communities in the mountains.  

There will be more races and even though my whole year has been aiming towards Kanangra I am not too disappointed.  I will now throw my all at the Carcoar Cup 60km in 2 weeks aiming to run a fast competitive ultra, as I had planned for the weekend.  I know the running community is strong and will help in anyway possible, below are a few links to help if you can:

12 October 2013

Mountain Sports Kanangra 50km

Kanangra 2013

Next Saturday I will be running out in the Kanangra-Boyd National Park in the MountainSports Kanangra 50km Trail Ultra.  This will be my second attempt at this race, having competed in 2012 coming in 8th with a time of 5hr 15min in what was my first ultra.  I remember the race with both positive and negative memories and I am looking forward to tackling the trails once again.

It was on the drive home from Kanangra in 2012 that I began to question my suitability to ultra running.  I had ran the first 30km very well, moving up into the top few and I felt that if I had finished the way I started I'd be up on the podium.  It wasn't to be however, I really started to struggle in the 10km stretch between 30-40km and the last 10km (which actually measured out to 14km) was just plain unenjoyable. I was in a sea on negative thoughts and most definitely was neither prepared both mentally or physically to manage the stress that running an ultra produces.  I did however struggle on to finish and managed to get some enjoyment out of the last couple of km's - the relief of crossing the finish line was indescribable, I think I said to Kel that I would never do a race like this again at that point. I still plan not to.  

Since that moment a lot has changed in my life, both personally and physically.  
2012 - 74kg starting to struggle
- I have become a fairly relentless trainer, only missing one planned training session in 12 months and this has given me a greater base of fitness and the discipline required in ultras, it also helps when the bad times start as I can back that the work has been done and I'll pull through.  
- I have dropped down to around 67kg, roughly 5kg lighter than this time last year, my aim is to be around 66kg come race day.
- I have a coach, Brendan Davies, and we have been able to work together to develop me as an athlete and I have gained so much valuable advice from Brendan since starting with him in November.
- I have become more controlled on the usual vices in life, I drink rarely and when I do it is in moderation and I eat very well managing a diet aimed at fuelling and repairing my body from the rigours of training.
- I have raced, a heap.  This year I have competed in around 15 races of which 3 have been ultras.  This has given me many learning experiences that will come in handy when the competition begins.
- I have done well and also fell down at times, each time I have looked at why and tried to build my body to ensure it doesn't happen again.  Whether it was going out too hard or not training specifically enough I have learnt from each race or major training run and have been flexible enough to incorporate necessary adjustments it into my plan.

Elevation Profile
I'm confident with my plan for Kanangra and know I have done the work for the plan to come off.  The past few weeks I have been knocking out 100km plus weeks with big elevation, with my energy levels high and fatigue low.  I have recovered well from Canberra and have really been focusing on the task at hand from a few days after I got home.  I know the distance is within my race zone and I believe the course will suit my style of running, it has a few climbs, but nothing major and a fair amount of downhill.  The course is all firetrail and my plan is to run sub 4hrs aiming for 45 minute splits each 10km for the first 40km, allowing for a fade in the last 10km.  I am going into this one ready both physically and mentally and have a thoughtfully planned taper program underway to ensure I'm busting at the start line.

It is also a major milestone for my wife Kellie.  It will be her first ultra and she has been working so hard at preparing herself for this one all year.  She recently ran strongly in the Mudgee Marathon and Glenbrook 35km and from these performances should be in line to do quite well at Kanangra.  I'm lucky enough to have a partner that shares the same interests as I do and I will be super proud when she crosses the line achieving her goal.  

Big thanks to Sean and Mel at MountainSports for their ongoing support of me as an ambassador and good luck to all involved, safe tapering and I'll see you at Jensons Farm on the Friday evening.